WHY GO TO THE MOON?
Numerous space actors have announced their intentions for returning to the Moon and settling on the lunar surface for a variety of economic, technological, scientific, and cultural reasons. Despite the widespread interest in lunar habitation, all currently available roadmaps lack a consolidated rationale for why the average person should be invested in humans returning to the Moon.
President Kennedy famously said “We choose to go to the Moon [...] not because it is easy, but because it is hard” when attempting to gather public support for the Apollo program in 1962. He appealed to everyday Americans’ sense of national pride, which was heightened during the Space Race with the Soviet Union. However, despite this overriding sense of competition, the American populace expressed concern about the opportunity cost of going to the Moon amid more pressing Earthly problems. After several decades, the dwindling lack of public and governmental support for space culminated in the initiation of the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program in 2004 after the Columbia disaster.
Given the lack of robust rationale that preceded the first lunar missions, a critical overview of the rationales for future lunar ventures is necessary in order to garner widespread public and political support. To lay the groundwork for this, we shall first examine the diverse rationales that exist for returning to the Moon through six key lenses: economics, technology, science, culture, security, and policy.